April 21, 2016
Punks young and old (but mostly old) crowded the Observatory on Thursday night for a sold-out opportunity to see Rancid, and no one left the venue disappointed.
The evening began with Lars Frederiksen nailing the first few seconds of “Roots Radicals” by himself before being joined by Matt Freeman on bass, drummer Branden Steineckert, and the legendary Tim Armstrong. The band sounded crisp as ever as they continued their opening barrage with the classic “Radio” before going back to …And Out Come the Wolves for “Journey to the End of the East Bay,” “Maxwell Murder,” and “The 11th Hour.”
“How the fuck are you guys doing?” Frederiksen asked to a round of cheers about 15 minutes into the set. Although the crowd didn’t show quite as much love for the newer material (such as the title track from 2014’s Honor Is All We Know and “East Bay Night” from 2009’s Let the Dominoes Fall), there was never a break in the action on-stage. Armstrong’s artistic maturity served as the perfect balance to Frederiksen’s brash punk attitude, just as it has for the last two decades and likely will for years to come.
When they weren’t playing tracks like “Old Friend,” “Listed M.I.A.,” and “Olympia, WA” from …And Out Come the Wolves, it seemed as though Let’s Go was the next album in line. “Black & Blue,” “Gunshot,” and “Salvation” all rang out through the Observatory, with much of the floor becoming a mosh pit for each.
Frederiksen’s interactions with the crowd (such as leading a chant ahead of “I Wanna Riot”) kept the show from being monotonous, as Rancid has a tendency to speed even their slowest songs to the tempo of their other punk anthems when performing live. It’s not a bad thing, but it could certainly be a lot to handle for someone who prefers the melodic side of Rancid’s music.
Just after 10:30 p.m., the set paused for everyone to sing Steineckert “Happy Birthday,” which was promptly followed by “You Don’t Care Nothin’” upon resuming from the brief interruption.
The second half of the set continued much in the way of the first, with Frederiksen checking in with “You guys having a good time?” before “Rejected” and Armstrong smiling and bouncing around when not singing his parts. After 23 years, it’s clear that Rancid still gets a lot of enjoyment out of what they do, and that they’re certainly having fun on the stage despite how many shows they’ve performed each and every year.
After closing their set with “Time Bomb” and thanking everyone, the band came back for an encore of “Fall Back Down,” “Avenues & Alleyways,” “The Way I Feel,” and “Ruby Soho.”
Armstrong and Frederiksen may not be the A-list celebrities at Coachella this year, but they’ll surely be looked at as one of punk’s great duos in the history books. Add in their fantastic rhythm section, and it makes Rancid a can’t-miss punk act even after all these years. Plus, Tim Armstrong still has the best beard in punk rock.
Journey to the End of the East Bay
The 11th Hour
Honor Is All We Know
East Bay Night
Black & Blue
I Wanna Riot
Black Derby Jacket
You Don’t Care Nothin’
It’s Quite Alright
Fall Back Down
Avenues & Alleyways
The Way I Feel